Is Switzerland heading towards a fuel crisis this winter?
On March 4, the Swiss government announced a set of measures to shore up the country’s energy supply in the wake of major fuel and energy supply concerns related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The current crisis has shown how exposed Switzerland’s energy industry is, with some analysts concerned that the country could face a fuel crisis and skyrocketing utility bills very soon.
The government have moved to prepare for a shortage
The Swiss government has started discussions on how to tackle any supply shocks that may come out of the conflict in Eastern Europe. One of the key issues is that Switzerland has few storage facilities for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and is also not part of any European Union agreement to supply or receive gas in the event of an emergency.
To tackle this, the Federal Council has drawn up plans to quickly obtain additional LNG storage capacity abroad in the event of an emergency, as well as creating plans to give the country "LNG terminal capacity," in order to regasify LNG so it can be used.
"The war in Ukraine has shown us how vulnerable Europe is and how dependent it is on Russian gas; Switzerland is no exception," Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga told the press. Half of the imported gas that is pumped into Switzerland comes from Russia.
Switzerland moving towards renewable energy transition
Like many other countries across Europe, Switzerland is aiming to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, in favour of switching to cleaner renewable sources of energy. For Switzerland, however, this task has been a particularly complicated one.
Firstly, thanks to the lack of an Institutional Framework Agreement with the EU after the breakdown of talks last year, Switzerland is not in a great position to import energy from surrounding EU countries in the event of an energy shortage in Switzerland. Importing energy from neighbouring countries was already difficult enough due to logistical constraints when it comes to storage, but now that Swiss-EU relations have stalled, this has become even more difficult.
There is some hope for Switzerland’s renewable energy future, though. While the country is not an ideal terrain for wind or solar power usage, Switzerland’s rugged landscape of mountains, lakes and rivers makes the country ideal for hydroelectric dams. Hydropower currently makes up approximately 60 percent of the country’s energy supply.